A mostly vacant, old building at a key corner in downtown Seattle finally has some new owners, and they plan to turn it into a hotel with a street-level bar and restaurant.
Officials of Seattle-based real estate development company Lake Union Partners on Wednesday said they bought the Eitel Building at Second Avenue and Pike Street for $5.35 million. Another Seattle company, Columbia Hospitality, will operate the independent hotel. Construction is tentatively scheduled to start next spring or summer and be done in early 2018.
Located between Pike Place Market and the retail core, the seven-story Eitel with an intricate facade has been deemed a landmark, but due to its poor condition, it has become like the missing tooth in the smile of Seattle.
The Wall Street Journal once called the 111-year-old building one of downtown's "most intractable eyesores." The city considered condemning the building 15 years ago, and the owner of the teriyaki restaurant that operated in the building was arrested earlier this year for allegedly trafficking in stolen property.
While Seattle Mayor Ed Murray would not typically comment on a $5 million downtown real estate sale, he did in this case. In a statement, he called it "a significant turning point for downtown's Pike/Pine corridor."
Over the years other developers have tried to buy the building from Dick Nimmer, who finally agreed to sell to Lake Union Partners. The Seattle real estate development company is known for building mixed-use apartment projects and filling the commercial spaces with popular homegrown businesses. The company also does office/retail development, including turning a 125-year-old downtown building at 1012 First Ave., into a project called the Standard.
The Eitel will be Lake Union Partners' first hotel development, and the company has its work cut out for it. Seattle developer Greg Smith, the head of Urban Visions, tried to buy the Eitel last year, but the deal fell through. Smith said at the time that the building was damaged in the Nisqually earthquake, and that itwould take a significant amount of money to preserve the building.
Lake Union Partners didn't say how much the company is planning to spend on the renovation. But Joe Ferguson, a principal with the company, said "the Standard is as complex a project as the Eitel Building will be."
Seattle design firms Weinstein A|U and Root Culture Lab are working on the Eitel redevelopment along with structural and civil engineers at Coughlin Porter Lundeen. Dane Murphy of Windermere Commercial represented Nimmer in the sale of the building, and Dan Swanson of Kidder Matthews represented Lake Union Partners.
The Eitel was six stories when it was built as a medical office building with a pharmacy on the ground floor. The seventh story was added in 1906. The city designated the building a landmark seven years ago.
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